Unseeded American upsets defending champion at Wimbledon

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After losing in the qualifying round, Lauren Davis needed luck to make the Wimbledon bracket. Now she’s made the most of her break as a lucky loser with the biggest upset of the tournament.

Facing defending champion Angelique Kerber, the 25-year-old American stormed back to earn a 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 win in the second round on Thursday.

Davis, who entered the tournament unseeded and ranked No. 95 by the WTA for women’s singles, battled a left ankle injury during the first set and overcame a slow start. But with 39 winners in the last two sets, she looked dominant as she ran away with the match.

Davis will face Carla Suárez Navarro next on Saturday and is on the same section of the draw as world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and Serena Williams. Suárez Navarro won two of their three face-offs, although Davis won their most recent one in 2017.

This will be Davis’ second time making it to the third round at Wimbledon, previously having done so in 2014.

This caps off a major comeback for Davis

Davis has been ranked as high as No. 26 in the world in May 2017, but things have not gone to plan since she reached the third round of the 2018 Australian Open.

Following a back-breaking marathon loss to Simone Halep that ended her run in the tournament, Davis did not win another tour-level match the rest of 2018. That dropped her WTA ranking down to No. 264 by October.

But a strong start to 2019 has Davis back in the top 100, and this showing at Wimbledon projects to push her back into the top-75 — or higher.

“This win means everything because this is what I strive for, this is what I work for,” Davis said, via Tennis.com. “It’s still setting in. I’m definitely happy with the way that I played — this is, I’d say, probably the biggest win of my career, especially considering the circumstances, her being the champion last year.

“I was super disappointed having lost last round of qualies. I found out less than two hours later that I got into main. I was ecstatic about that. It’s honestly a dream being here. It just feels amazing.”

Angelique Kerber’s year-long slide continues

As Davis’ ascent continues, it also marks a key point in Kerber’s championship drought.

Kerber bested Serena Williams in the 2018 Wimbledon final in straight sets, but she has yet to win a major title since. Without a deep run on one of her stronger surfaces, the 31-year-old German is in danger of falling out of the top 10.

“Of course I’m disappointed,” Kerber said. “It’s not the way I would like to finish here or to play here. But you have sometimes days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it, trying to forgot this as soon as possible.”

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